/ Money

Sending Christmas cards first class is pointless

Wallace & Gromit first class stamp

Stand up if you send Christmas cards. Sit down if you send them second class. If you’re still standing, you could be wasting money. Posting first class during the festive season is like throwing pennies down the drain.

You’re better off sticking to second class stamps on your Christmas cards this year (and every year for that matter). This will save you 9p per card, and when stamp prices eventually go up, you could even save a penny more (gasp).

Why should you forego the first class stamp? Well, you may not realise it, but Royal Mail gives up its ‘first class promise’ during a time when it expects to send 750 million merry cards.

We normally pay a premium thanks to Royal Mail’s assurance that 93% of all first class letters will arrive by the next day. But this promise is scrapped between 6 December and 1 January. So Royal Mail has no obligation to treat your first class post any differently.

Consumer Focus is advising everyone to send letters with second class stamps during this jolly time of year, since it found only 56% of first class post actually arrived the next day last Christmas. This compares to 92% of second class letters arriving within its target of three working days.

The country as a whole could save £67.5 million a year by using second class stamps on Christmas cards. But I say you could save even more by not sending them at all!

Get out your mobile phone and send your friends a festive text, pick up your landline and give your parents a jovial ring and email an electronic Xmas card to your granny. Then again, your own mantel might be a little empty next year…

Sophie Gilbert says:
25 November 2010

From an environmental point of view Christmas cards are just another anathema. Someday I may manage to persuade myself to send everyone who’s got an adequate device an electronic greeting of one description or another. The problem is that just now everyone indeed expects a real card to put up on the mantelpiece, not everyone has a computer or mobile or what not to receive ecards, and some, a literally dying breed, may even be slightly offended, puzzled and saddened that I didn’t put pen to paper to send them my good wishes. I’m not strong enough yet to disappoint all these people!

I think this year could be the first year I don’t send any paper cards! I think all of mine have been/will be replaced my longer greetings/news on an email/e-card or a phone call. From a recipient point of view, I’d enjoy unexpectedly being called (by someone I liked!) more than an unexpected Christmas card which personally I think is a bit less thoughtful – and which will eventually and pretty quickly end up in the (recycling) bin.

Royal Mail Group Ltd, Are useless & Need to be tackled by The Uk Government ASAP.

I didn’t know about the suspension of the next day promise over Xmas, but I have to say that I have ALWAYS posted all my cards on Dec 1st ever since I left my parents home in 1986 and to date I have only ever discovered one card that went missing altogether and no cards, that I know of, have taken more than 24 hours to arrive.
Indeed, at one time i had access to a Franking Machine and, for whatever reason I do not know, but Franked (1st class) mail (at all times of year) often left the office at 3L30 p.m. when the Royal Mail man fetched the sack and in a great many cases people were ringing me by 10:00 a.m. the next day to say they’d received the item.

The question of not sending cards is rather a difficult one. On the one hand I agree that cards are environmentally poor (though as card, real card, is so easy to recycle actually it’s a minuscule issue compared to all the plastic and other rubbish that we generate over the festive season and all year round by buying such frippary as silly plastic toys that last 5 minutes, packs of sweets, crisps, party foods, pre-wrapped mats and so on and so on). I’d also point out that the cost of Greetings cards is astronomical and seems to be a licence to print money (literally) for the makers.

On the other hand buying charity cards – NOT the supermarket ones but ones DIRECT from the charity – is a very good way to support charities that you like and – in my mind the most important point – there is the issue that Sophie raised about offending people. I’m afraid that anyone who sends me a greeting by text or e-mail won’t be on my friends list for very long: it’s downright ignorant and bad manners. It would be more polite to send NOTHING than to use such methods.

Anyway, this thread is supposed to be about the Mail and first class stamps. Returning to that theme, I would like to stick up for our much maligned postal service which, although not perfect, is generally pretty reasonable at it’s job.
The two specific gripes that I do have though are
1) it is unfair and wrong that franked mail goes cheaper (and it seems to me faster) than mail we pay the full face value of stamps for
2) The cost of stamps is too high, full stop, even when the service is operating well.

This is the last time and year for postal customers to send their mail with cheap stamp price. Once it is privatised, we will see big jump in stamp price, We will surprise if they add vat on postal services.We all have enjoyed great Royal Mail services last few years . If we compare with private postal services, Royal Mail is much cheaper. Charity people will suffer,if we do not send christmas card.They are benifited from christmas card. I would send my cards 10 days early as Royal Mail is getting large volume of letters and parcels during christmas period.First Or second, we just helping our best British brand Royal Mail.

Hi- from an environmental standpoint, Im not doing the meaningless workplace card-fest this year. Im going to be brave – Im not rushing out to Clintons to get an expensive box of vile gaudy cards, to get to sit down for a couple of my precious hours at home AWAY from those who cant be bothered to be consistently pleasant to me from Jan to Dec – and try to remember the spellings of the hypocritical card givers names and….cringe! their partners names – AAAGHH! and write out “Happy Christmas” and then trudge around the office leaving them on desks in the hope of goodwill for the next year! Its a pointless exercise. Christmas cards dont matter one bit – better to remember to treat people well all year round and then get to SAY Happy Christmas to them (if you’ve earnt that luxury) and to HEAR it back from them, if they have earnt that privilege too. Otherwise, forget it – and save money and your feelings and of course, do your bit for the planet and dont help to destroy the planet.

dicksmerv says:
15 December 2012

Time of Peace and Goodwill?

I’ve just received a christmas card which unfortunately was 1cm over the size for a standard letter. Had to travel 5 miles to collect it and pay the 19p that was underpaid. I then had to pay a £1 handling charge. The amusing thing was. It was a card from my wife which I had posted.
As there is so much confusion about what stamp to put on cards I feel that Royal Mail could have given us a bye as, after all it is Christmas and the time of goodwill……

The surcharge is a standard fee. What a performance having to check that the height, width, thickness and weight of each item is below the threshold for a higher postage rate.

The thickness is the most difficult to estimate. I recently sent out nine identical A4 booklets and three of the recipients were not happy that they had to pay a surcharge.

When I buy children’s birthday cards I take care to avoid the ones with badges attached.

John says:
7 December 2020

I have posted Christmas cards to demand friends with first class stamps. When the cards arrived my family and friends have had to pay another £1.50 to get the card. What’s going on here

John – It’s possible that your cards were were outside the size limit for the standard letter rate and were surcharged at the large letter rate [plus a handling fee]. This is the only explanation I can put forward since it has happened to me in the past with birthday cards where I neglected to check the category. Some cards have an indication on the back of the applicable letter rate. Why not call your local sorting office and ask for the justification?

It’s common for birthday cards to have badges proclaiming ‘I am 5’ or other message, adding to the thickness of the envelope. The maximum thickness is 5mm for both normal first and second class letter. The ‘large letter’ rates allow 25mm.

It was difficult to find the £1.50 charge mentioned by John, but it is on this page:

It’s a long time since I received one of those cards with a badge on it!

I have obviously visited that web page before because when it opened it already had my e-mail address and (encrypted) password in the relevant boxes.

I suppose in a corner of the sorting office there is a tired old postman in a brown coat and no longer fit for the long walks scrutinising all the Christmas cards with a measuring stick and a slotted frame to make sure the Royal Mail gets every last penny it is due.

Clearing out a drawer the other day I came across one of the old “Postage Due – 3d” stamps that used to be put on unpaid or underpaid mail and the postman or woman would collect the money on their round. I don’t think there was any surcharge in those days – it was just the nett amount deficient.